THEY waited patiently, lining the streets of Sheffield communities to be part of history.
Generations of families - waving flags and holding homemade banners aloft - made sure the Olympic torchbearers received a real Steel City welcome.
Thousands cheered on the flame as it made it way through Ecclesfield, Parson Cross and Hillsborough.
Julie Hague, aged 44, from Shirecliffe, with her seven-year-old grandson Jordan in Hillsborough Park, said: “The atmosphere here today has been really nice. It’s something everyone can get excited about.”
Jordan said: “It’s my birthday tomorrow and I feel like this is an early present.”
Great-grandmother Joan Dodworth, 86, of Langsett, said it was a once-in-a-lifetime experience.
She said: “I’ve never seen anything like this before and I won’t again in my lifetime.”
Barbara Taylor, 75, of Stannington said: “It really is something to be proud of.”
Barbara’s grandchildren Kian McGarrity Taylor, six, and two-year-old sister Alyssa, from Loxley, looked the part in London 2012 T-shirts, waving matching flags.
Kian said: “I am really excited for the Olympics.”
Dorothy White, 67, from Walkley, said: “It was over with a bit quick, but otherwise it has been a lovely afternoon. It feels like history and it is nice to be a part of it. It’s fantastic to see everybody together.”
The torch celebrations - which included stalls, rides and musical entertainment - attracted the biggest crowd the community park had seen for years, according to locals.
Marilynn Hoyland, 66, of Hillsborough, said: “People just don’t get together like this any more so it’s marvellous to see everyone all here for the same purpose.”
At Chaucer School there was a delighted grandparent as Janet Westnage collected first prize for 12-year-old grandson Brendon Reid-Flanagan for his winning entry in the design a torch competition.
She said: “I’m very proud of him, he loves sport and has worked very hard at this.”
Brendon, who his friend claimed is ‘the fastest in Year 7’ said: “It took me a week to design it. I’m really looking forward to the Olympics, especially the 100 metres. I can’t wait to see Usain Bolt run - and Jessica Ennis as well.”
There were more than 300 people at a party in front of the school’s Learning Zone. Event organiser Vanessa Kirby, from Shirecliffe, said: “We’re really happy with the turnout. Everyone is having a good time and there’s a really good community feel. Lots of different people have been involved in bringing this together. I’m just pleased it has gone so well.”
And Kealey Grainger, aged 27, from Southey Green, added: “The torch relay has brought people in the community together.
“This is what Parson Cross is really like. It is a once in a lifetime opportunity to be involved in something like this. It’s an opportunity for Parson Cross to get together.”
In Ecclesfield, plumber Aaron Searle, aged 33, from Wharncliffe Side was surprised at how exciting the occasion was. He said: “It was brilliant to see the torch go by. I’d been following it on the radio and I was stopped in traffic so I thought I’d take a look. It was great.”
And by St Mary’s church in Ecclesfield, Francesca Bailey, aged 33, with daughters Courtney, aged 11, and Rhianne, aged 4, from Southey Green, said: “It was far better than we thought. There was dancing on the vans, which the girls really liked. The atmosphere was brilliant in Ecclesfield.”